Wisconsin’s Non-discipline System

By Attorney Gregg Herman
May 17, 2013

Another example today of Wisconsin’s non-discipline system:

In the Matter of Disciplinary Proceedings Against William F. Mross, Case No.  2012AP406-, the Supreme Court suspended Attorney Mross for 60 days.

This was his fifth – count ’em, 5th – violation.

According the decision:

He has been subject to professional discipline on four prior occasions.  In 2003, his license was suspended for 90 days for violating SCR 20:8.4(b)[2] by delivering cigarettes to inmates at the Racine County jail, in violation of Wis. Stat. § 302.095(2).  In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Mross, 2003 WI 4, 259 Wis. 2d 8, 657 N.W.2d 342.  In 2004, he was privately reprimanded for failing to competently represent, communicate with, and keep informed clients in the defense of a foreclosure matter.  Private Reprimand, No. 2004-11.  In 2006, he was publicly reprimanded for failing to diligently represent, communicate with, and keep clients informed in foreclosure matters; and accepting compensation for representing those clients from a non-attorney offering debt relief, without the clients’ consent.  Public Reprimand of William F. Mross, No. 2006-10.  In 2010, he was publicly reprimanded for practicing law while administratively suspended for noncompliance with continuing legal education (CLE) requirements and failing to disclose to the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) or the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) his practice activities while suspended, and for providing improper financial assistance to clients when he made a bankruptcy plan payment for them out of his own funds.  Public Reprimand of William F. Mross, No. 2010-5.

One “concept” of our system is “progressive discipline” – in other words, the discipline gets more severe for each violation.  That’s no different that a drunk driver getting a more severe sentence for each violation.  Or any criminal defendant for that matter.

It would not be difficult for the Wisconsin Supreme Court to impose progressive discipline as it is so light to begin with.  But, here is a case where his first disciplinary violation results in a 90 days suspension, but for his 5th violation, he gets only 60 days.

And, in any event, how does he get to have five disciplinary proceedings (some of which involved multiple violations) and still get to keep his license?

Just as I start to think our system could not get any more lenient, the Supreme Court proves me wrong.

Attorney Gregg Herman is a founding partner of Loeb & Herman S.C. in Milwaukee, WI. He practices family law exclusively, and can be reached via e-mail or by calling (414) 272-5632.